Managing Arthritis Pain in the Winter

Cold weather is great for curling up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and a good book or movie, right? Well, maybe not. Many people with arthritis experience increased joint pain during the cold winter months. The best way to combat this increase in arthritic pain is to stay active! While your joints might be achy and might have a bit of increased pain with activity initially but stick with it and the activity will benefit you in the long run! Here are five great ways to stay active with arthritis in the winter months.
1. Bundle up and walk outside.
If the weather is decent, take a walk outside like you would in the warmer months, just wear warm clothing. Make sure to wear layers so that you can shed them if you get too warm. Waiting until the afternoon is ideal so that the weather is at its warmest.
2. Walk around an indoor mall.
If the weather outside is too chilly, a great way to get in some good activity is to walk around an indoor mall. The space of the mall gives you plenty of room to stretch and walk around just as you would outside.
3. If you have a gym membership, utilize it.
If you don’t want to go to the mall but have a gym membership, go walk or bike at the gym instead. If your gym has a pool, even better! Swimming is a great to exercise for people with arthritis, especially if the pool is heated, because it unloads the weight from the joints. Stretching and gentle strengthening exercises are also very beneficial for alleviating arthritic pain. If you are unsure of how to use equipment in the gym correctly, have a trainer show you how to use the equipment to avoid injury.
4. Exercise in your house.
If the weather is too icy or if you don’t have access to an indoor mall or gym, exercise in your home. There are several exercises that are great to perform at home. If you can tolerate stairs, walk up and down your stairs. Walking may be difficult if you don’t have a treadmill, but there you can stretch and perform bodyweight strengthening exercises very easily with everyday household equipment.
5. Take an exercise class.
Many gyms and studios offer yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and dance classes. Look up some studios in your area and sign up to take a class or two. Be careful with some of these classes, though, and make sure that they will work for your fitness level. Check with the instructor before you sign up and ask how difficult the class will be to determine if it is right for you.
Don’t let the cold weather keep you from moving! Being stationary will likely increase your arthritic joint pain more than what the cold weather will. Ask your physical therapist if you have questions about an exercise program that would be good for you to perform at home or the gym. Keep your joints moving, you will enjoy your hot chocolate more if you’re in less pain!
Content provided by Myranda Griebel, PTA